Watertown hospital to form partnership with LifePoint, become taxpaying entity

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

May 15, 2015

WATERTOWN - Watertown Regional Medical Center has signed an agreement with LifePoint Health for a joint venture to share ownership and operation of the hospital, according to a Thursday announcement.

LifePoint will own 80 percent of the joint venture, while WRMC and the community will retain a 20 percent ownership stake. As part of the joint venture, WRMC also will become a taxpaying organization.

As part of the deal, governance of the hospital will be shared by a board with equal representation from both WRMC and LifePoint. The agreement must be reviewed by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office.

The joint venture will include investing $100 million at WRMC during the next decade for significant advancements in technology, the expansion of clinical services and initiatives such as WRMC’s Wellness Initiative, and facility improvements, according to the announcement.

LifePoint also has committed to hiring all employees.

“We are excited to reach this milestone in our journey to form a joint venture with LifePoint,” said Jeff Baum, chairman of the WRMC Board of Directors, in a statement. “As we explored this partnership in more depth in recent months, our belief that LifePoint is the ideal partner for our hospital and community has only been strengthened. WRMC and LifePoint share a commitment to local governance and dedication to delivering quality care close to home. Together, we will be able to enhance the health care services in this region and build a community health system of the future.”

According to the announcement, proceeds from the joint venture transaction will be used to pay off WRMC’s existing financial obligations. The remaining assets will be used to create a substantial charitable foundation focused on community health, which will be established as an independent, locally governed, nonprofit organization.

After the formation of the partnership, WRMC will no longer be working as closely with UW Health. According to the announcement,  WRMC intends to continue to collaborate with UW Health on local specialty care services when it makes sense to do so.